My group of college friends reunited for a girls’ weekend near Middleburg, Virginia in September, in the area known as “hunt country” about 45 minutes from Washington D.C. Cruising in a rented mini-van on the short drive from Dulles airport, we passed grand horse properties along the winding roads towards our friend Liz’s childhood home. As evening brought a hint of cool to the air, we were thrilled to catch up and sip wine with this gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains view.
We didn’t let rain on Saturday deter our plans to go wine tasting – Liz informed us Virginia ranks 5th in the number of wineries of the 50 states (and is also 5th for wine grape production). Though we did not encounter any horse and buggy traffic, the sign warned drivers should be prepared for a transportation throwback.
Our first stop was Vintage Ridge Vineyard in Delaplane, a micro winery producing 1500 cases per year. After entering the tasting room, we were seated at our own table for an extensive tasting costing only $7. They also offer a menu of light fare such as cheese plates to complement your wine,
We sipped our way through their list of offerings – tasting notes of blackberry and cherry in the Cabernet Franc and pineapple and melon in the sweet white “Summer Night”. Live music created a festive atmosphere as the room filled up with an eclectic group from babies to bachelorettes.
Like many Napa wineries, a stand up counter served as the tasting area at Pearmund. Another great value, the tasting included 12 different wines for $10. We have several Chardonnay fans in our group, so their buttery 2011 Old Vine Chardonnay stood out with hints of pear and apple. There was a separate counter where visitors can snack on hummus or cheese selections after finishing their wine.
We ended the day with dinner at Hunter’s Head Tavern , an authentic British pub in the town of Upperville. The tavern menu presents a sustainable twist to comfort food, serving organic, local meats and produce. We ordered our food and drinks (featuring local wine such as Delaplane Cellars) at the bar, then were given numbered wooden spoons for servers to deliver our food at the table. Several of us opted for the pub’s burger (either beef, veal, turkey, portobella mushroom or veggie) – offered with topping selections such as a fried farm egg, tomato chili jam and caramelized onions. The food was excellent and the atmosphere comfortable and charming.
Though we have fun anywhere, our group especially enjoyed the historic elegance and thriving wine scene of the VA hunt country.
For more information about Virginia wineries, visit: http://www.virginiawine.org/